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« Comedian Bill Hicks - It's Just A Ride | Main | Senator's Husband’s Firm Cashes In On Crisis »
Friday
Sep022011

How Darrell Issa Got Richer While In Congress, Helping his District And Helping Himself

A NYT profile of Issa's shady dealings.  Issa is the 2nd richest member of Congress, with a net worth of $220 million.

See the complete list:

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New York Times

VISTA, Calif. — Here on the third floor of a gleaming office building overlooking a golf course in the rugged foothills north of San Diego, Darrell Issa, the entrepreneur, oversees the hub of a growing financial empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Just a few steps down the hall, Representative Darrell Issa, the powerful Republican congressman, runs the local district office where his constituents come for help.

The proximity of the two offices reflects Mr. Issa’s dual careers, a meshing of public and private interests rarely seen in government.

Most wealthy members of Congress push their financial activities to the side, with many even placing them in blind trusts to avoid appearances of conflicts of interest. But Mr. Issa (pronounced EYE-suh), one of Washington’s richest lawmakers, may be alone in the hands-on role he has played in overseeing a remarkable array of outside business interests since his election in 2000.

Even as he has built a reputation as a forceful Congressional advocate for business, Mr. Issa has bought up office buildings, split a holding company into separate multimillion-dollar businesses, started an insurance company, traded hundreds of millions of dollars in securities, invested in overseas funds, retained an interest in his auto-alarm company and built up a family foundation.

As his private wealth and public power have grown, so too has the overlap between his private and business lives, with at least some of the congressman’s government actions helping to make a rich man even richer and raising the potential for conflicts.

He has secured millions of dollars in Congressional earmarks for road work and public works projects that promise improved traffic and other benefits to the many commercial properties he owns here north of San Diego. In one case, more than $800,000 in earmarks he arranged will help widen a busy thoroughfare in front of a medical plaza he bought for $16.3 million.

His constituents cheer the prospect of easing traffic. At the same time, the value of the medical complex and other properties has soared, at least in part because of the government-sponsored road work.

But beyond specific actions that appear to have clearly benefited his businesses, Mr. Issa’s interests are so varied that some of the biggest issues making their way through Congress affect him in some way.

After the forced sale of Merrill Lynch in 2008, for instance, he publicly attacked the Treasury Department’s handling of the deal without mentioning that Merrill had handled hundreds of millions of dollars in investments for him and lent him many millions more.

And in an era when the auto industry’s future has been a big theme of public policy, Mr. Issa has been outspoken on regulatory issues affecting car companies, while maintaining deep ties to the industry through the auto electronics company he founded, DEI Holdings.

He has a seat on its board, and his nonprofit family foundation, which seeks to encourage values like “hard work and selfless philanthropy,” has earned millions from stock in DEI, which bears his initials. Mr. Issa’s fortune, in fact, was built on his car alarm company, and to this day it is his deep voice on Viper alarms that warns potential burglars to “please step away from the car.”

In recent months, The New York Times has examined how some lawmakers have championed particular industries, pushing measures to protect and enrich supporters. In Mr. Issa’s case, it is sometimes difficult to separate the business of Congress from the business of Darrell Issa.

Mr. Issa, 57, did not respond to repeated written requests in the last three weeks to discuss his outside interests. In the past, he has said his business background has made him a better lawmaker. In at least one Congressional matter, however, he recused himself after being advised of a potential conflict.

Continue reading...

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Recently on Issa

How Darrell Issa's Public Company Ripped Off Shareholders - NYT

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/business/darrell-issas-company-and-the-securities-and-exchange-commissions-quandary.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&ref=business

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Goldman VP Peter Haller Changed Name, Now A Top Congressional Staffer To Darrell Issa Working To Ease Dodd-Frank Derivatives Requirements On Goldman Sachs

http://dailybail.com/home/outrage-goldman-vp-peter-haller-changed-name-now-a-top-congr.html

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While Fighting To Block SEC Investigation Of Goldman Sachs, Rep. Darrell Issa Bought Goldman Sachs Bonds

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/06/29/256563/darell-issa-goldman-sachs/

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Wall Street Pimp Darrell Issa ‘Very Concerned’ Elizabeth Warren Will ‘Bully Banks’

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/07/14/268818/issa-warren-bully-banks/

 

 

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Reader Comments (12)

Tough post, DB, and here's why. On the one hand, you have to credit Issa on transparency. Wasn't he the congressman who produced emails showing that Treasury and Fed officials both were pressuring AIG's people not to divulge the identities of AIG's counterparties (which turned out to be Goldman Sachs and a fuckload of FOREIGN BANKS)? I'm damn near sure I read that here.

On the other hand, we find the present post, the back-alley reality that Issa is nothing but a whore.

To me, the latter renders the former a puppet show.

A Congressional pogrom is in order.
Sep 2, 2011 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheyenne
I hear prisons have great behavior-mod programs that cure the bad habit of 'blind-siding' others and that this behavior-mod program is run by the prisoners. Can't wait to see Issa take the plunge.
Sep 3, 2011 at 3:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterHoward T. Lewis III
Cheyenne

And these 4 recent stories on Issa, also color my opinion of him:

How Darrell Issa's Public Company Ripped Off Shareholders - NYT

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/business/darrell-issas-company-and-the-securities-and-exchange-commissions-quandary.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&ref=business

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Goldman VP Peter Haller Changed Name, Now A Top Congressional Staffer To Darrell Issa Working To Ease Dodd-Frank Derivatives Requirements On Goldman Sachs

http://dailybail.com/home/outrage-goldman-vp-peter-haller-changed-name-now-a-top-congr.html

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Investigation - While Fighting To Block SEC Investigation Of Goldman Sachs, Rep. Darrell Issa Bought Goldman Sachs Bonds

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/06/29/256563/darell-issa-goldman-sachs/

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Wall Street Pimp Darrell Issa ‘Very Concerned’ Elizabeth Warren Will ‘Bully Banks’

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/07/14/268818/issa-warren-bully-banks/
Sep 4, 2011 at 10:18 AM | Registered CommenterDailyBail
NYT trying to protect Odumba. All lies beginning with the 1ST sentence!
NYT has already issued 4 retractions and 9 more will be following!
Sep 4, 2011 at 6:59 PM | Unregistered Commenter12aintsuneuf
Issa seems like the typical congressman to me, yet NYT would have you believe that this is "a meshing of public and private interests rarely seen in government". NYT is the typical mainstream media. Neither are my friend.
Sep 5, 2011 at 8:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterSean
("A Congressional pogrom is in order.")

I agree Cheyenne,
What in the hell are the voters thinking when they keep voting these corrupt, ultra rich, self-serving, elite people into office? Are a majority of American Voters mentally incompetent, or are they even paying attention to the transfer of wealth the elite have accomplished with the help of these (Foxes in the chicken coop)????
Sep 5, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSagebrush
@Sagebrush
Damn good questions. There isn't anyone I know personally that has the slightest clue about the global situation beyond reports from the MSM or their little cliche. I've stopped trying to give these people the facts so that they can make an educated decision. They all seem to be in DENIAL. They just don't want to hear it.
Of course, They should listen to me. I KNOW EVERYTHING. LOL
Sep 5, 2011 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterTR
TR, I think you hit the nail on the head, DENIAL. Maybe add APATHY and just plain LAZY in for good measure.
Sep 5, 2011 at 7:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterSagebrush
"They all seem to be in DENIAL. They just don't want to hear it."

I'd have totally agreed with that even 1 year ago. But l've personally broken through several level-1 relationships in the last 12 months. The biggest change I've seen is that people are no longer so dismissive to alternative explanations, also known as "reason" nine times out of ten.

But you're right. The deeper the betrayal--and where there's 1 or 2 there are countless--the more likely you'll trigger the deaf-ear. You just can't walk into a Denny's and start a candid conversation critiquing Secretary Geithner's performance or likening it to Russia of the early 1990's.

No, that won't do.

That is to say, though denial is an incredibly powerful reason-blocker, it can only take so many hits. And recently, there have been an inordinate number of truth-hits. Reminds me of March 2008.
Sep 5, 2011 at 11:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterCheyenne
Nov 17, 2011 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohn
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